Every book that has a front cover also has a back cover (unless someone tore it off, or it’s an e-book).
In a physical bookstore, the back cover is an important selling tool. Your back cover is an advertisement. Make the most of it. It gives you an excellent opportunity to convince a prospective customer to purchase the book he or she has plucked from a shelf or display.
It’s very different when you are selling online. Amazon does not automatically show your back cover. If you want potential customers to see it and read it, you have to upload the image yourself by clicking on "Share your own customer images."
(above) It’s customary to indicate the book’s classification, such as “humor” or “gardening,” so bookstore people know where to put the book. There’s no rule against listing two classifications such as “history” and “geography” if they both apply. Find out how competitive books are classified, and check the huge book subject list at the Book Industry Study Group. The classification is usually printed at the top of the back cover.
(above) If you want your book to be sold by booksellers, your back cover must show an ISBN and its associated bar code, which usually go at the bottom of the back cover.
Many books have their prices printed near the ISBN bar code—and many don’t. If you don’t have a printed price, it makes it easier for you to experiment with price changes.
Here’s what else you should include on the back:
- What the book is about and why people should buy it
- Comments (blurbs) from readers and reviewers if available (see top photo)
- Unless you are a superstar, your brief biography, to establish yourself as an authority in the field you are writing about (less important for fiction and poetry)
- Your photo -- a studio portrait, not an amateur snapshot (unless it is elsewhere in the book)
- Name of publishing company, with city, state and web URL
- (Optional) list price for United States and possibly other countries, particularly Canada
Your back cover needs as much attention as your front cover -- in writing, editing, design and formatting. The back cover shown above has many problems:
- The first two ‘sentences’ are not really sentences.
- The second ‘sentence’ has three unnecessary apostrophes.
- The last sentence has one unnecessary apostrophe.
- The third sentence has an unnecessary comma -- and probably should be several sentences.
- The text has full justification, but lacks hyphens, so there are horrible gaps between words.
- The writing also has problems. In the last sentence in the second paragraph, “poses” is probably not the best word to use. In the last paragraph, Malik is described as “conscious.” The proper word is probably “conscientious.” Where was the editor?